Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is none on earth that I desire beside you.…
— "Whom have I in heaven but Thee?" Not "what." Not in things, but in persons, the personal soul must find its portion. Not in many, but in One, to whom the soul can look, and to whom, as here, it can lift up its cry.
I. GOD ALONE CAN MEET OUR SINFULNESS. This is our first need, for we are sinners, and this fact affects everything else. There may be any amount of slumbering grandeur in us, but it cannot get out for sin. None of us would be willing or able to reveal to another all that he is conscious of in himself. Hence men are reserved with one another. A man is accosting his neighbour in neighbourly kindness, and thinking the while, "He does not know me, and I durst not tell him what I think and what I feel and what I am. If I were sure he would understand everything just as it is, I might be able to tell him; but being sure that he would not understand, I cannot." Now we are not speaking of any great sins or vices which particular men may have committed, and the remembrance of which they carry within, like ghastly skeletons shut up in closed rooms, but just of the secret of sinfulness which is in every heart. A terrible secret! A secret which must be told, which cannot be shut up for ever. But to whom? To Him who is greater than the heart, and who knoweth all things. To Him, in fact, because He knoweth all things. And then, according to His own promise, He will meet us and take all our sin away. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but he that con-fesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." God is for ever declaring His willingness to forgive. Thus He makes Himself our God by meeting our sinfulness.
II. GOD ALONE CAN MEET OUR FEEBLENESS. We are compassed with infirmities, we are made up of needs. Some are so utterly blinded and bewitched that for a while they seem to indulge the hope that this world is the foundation-rock on which they can rest. How we should pity such men! And how pitiable indeed they become when they are undeceived; when the seeming rock shows itself to be but shifting sand; when the fair house shivers itself to atoms in their hands, and they stand houseless and homeless in the storm.
III. GOD ONLY CAN MEET OUR NOBLENESS. For we are noble, as well as frail and sinful. Things high and low meet strangely in our nature. We are made in the image of God. The image is marred but not erased. We belong to a fallen but also to a rising race. And this is our nobleness that we are still God's sons, and that we are awakening to this consciousness. And God alone can meet us in this. As He alone can understand the vastness of our needs, so He only can understand the greatness of our desire and the strength of our endeavour to be like Him, and with Him again. We misread, and then we misreport, each other woefully. We are on the homeward way together, and no doubt there is thus great mutual help, but there is mutual hindrance as well. One often casts a shadow on the path of another. He seems to see nothing but the wrong things, and the weaknesses; the rightness and the growing strength are within, and are seen only by Him who looks from above. It is not only that the wrong things are seen, and the weaknesses are noted, but often the right is called the wrong, and treated so. No doubt the temper of suspicion and distrust is fostered by the publicity which everything now receives, or rather by the malign prominence given in our daily literature to the vile and the wrong things. For the good things are not published; they are put into quiet corners; a thousand of them may be enacted by effort and by sacrifice, by patience and perseverance and love, and no notice will be taken of them. This uncandid temper, this extreme unwillingness to see moral inequalities among men, this strange desire to strike down the lofty and lay them with the low, rather than toil for the elevation of the low to the level of the lofty, is becoming quite one of the operative principles of our intellectual and social life, and of course it affects the Church also. Suspicion is bred among Christian men. One does not see how God is working in another, how the glorious image is shining out again. All this is trying enough, but at least it should enhance and endear to us the truth we are now enforcing, that God alone can meet our nobleness. How precious the privilege of being able to turn to Him when we can turn to no one else!
IV. GOD ALONE CAN MEET AND SATISFY OUR IMMORTALITY. He only is "the strength of our heart, and our portion for ever." Even if the things and the persons we are so apt. in our haste and blindness to put in the place of Him could be to us what we hope, the question still remains, "For how long?" and turn where we will, we can find no answer of such a kind as to furnish the ground of confidence for a single day. Try to apply the great language of the text to any person, to anything, but Him, and what a mockery it will be! Turn, then, from sin to God, from frailty to God, from trouble to God, from baffled endeavours to God, from unrequited love to God, from self to God, from men to God, from the world to God, from heaven to God, from eternity to God; and standing, separated and alone, on the height of this decisive hour, say, while heaven hears the cry, and angels register the vow — "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none," etc.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.